- Presidential spokesman reveals 50,000 ghost workers sacked
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The federal government payroll has been able to get rid of 50,000 ghost workers, saving the country N200 billion, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, has said.
Shehu said the exercise led to the saving of N13 billion monthly from the payroll from February to December this year.
Speaking with State House correspondents at an interactive meeting to mark the end of the year, the media and aide to the president announced that 11 persons championing the syndicate of ghost workers had been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The flagship programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instill good governance is on course. Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the government has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.
“When the committee was constituted in February 2016, the federal government monthly salary bill was N151 billion excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is N138 billion, excluding pensions. Which means the government is making a monthly saving of about N13 billion. That is from February 2016 to date,” he said.
According to him, the pension bill was N15.5billion monthly as at February.
“Now it is down to N14.4 billion, which means average monthly saving is made of about N1.1 billion,” he added.
Shehu said about 50,000 ghost workers had so far been removed from the payroll and that 11 persons behind the syndicate of the ghost workers had been referred to EFCC with some of them already undergoing trial.
Responding to claim by members of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC), on the president’s failure to appoint qualified persons into boards, Shehu said the process would be fully back on track at the beginning of the new year.
“You know that the reconstitution began methodically, from sector to sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the new year. The president has given directions on what to do,” he explained.
On the agricultural programmes of the administration, he declared that the president’s persistent calls for a return to farming was yielding good results.
“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their output. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness of off takers to buy the produce is also a major boost.
“When you put all these together with the systematic move to curb importation as a boost to local production through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favorable environment for the diversification of the economy.
“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating- Nestle, Unilever andthe breweries are looking at what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their share of the market,” Shehu stated.
He advised manufacturers hooked on import of raw materials to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials.
“The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” he added.